TRANSPORT minister Jorum Gumbo says those blaming government for road carnage were speaking ignorantly about the operations of the country’s road authority, Zinara.
In an interview with Newzimbabwe, Gumbo blamed negligent motorists and a road infrastructure battered by heavy rains.
He said this after the MDC Friday blamed government for contributing to the country's road carnage through embezzling maintenance funds.
This followed a fatal collision between a commuter transport and a haulage truck in Bulawayo killed 16 passengers most of them members of one family who were driving along the along the Bulawayo-Gwanda road to bury their loved one.
What angered citizens were reports that the truck driver had swerved while trying to avoid a pothole which they said should not have been there had Zinara been doing its job.
“Zinara does not do roads,” Gumbo said, adding that the controversial parastatal only collects and passes on the funds to urban councils, Rural District Councils, District Development Funds and the Department of Roads.
The Zanu PF ministerial appointee then went into a profuse diatribe against negligent motorists and those that blame government for having a hand in the road carnage.
“The roads are bad at the moment; there is nothing to hide about it. That’s why we have declared a state of disaster on our roads,” Gumbo said.
“There are potholes all over. Some of the roads have already been swept away to dust roads, some tarred roads are in a very bad state, some bridges have been swept away we talk about it, we shout about it and we tell our drivers to be careful as they drive on the road and not to speed unless they have visibility and they see that they are driving on a straight and good road.
“Otherwise they must avoid speeding in order to make sure that they can also avoid such bad accidents which end up destroying vehicles, taking human lives which we don’t like so we must all be careful.
"This is a situation that is with us and we can’t run away from it because they are bad only a few roads are still in a very good state but the majority of our roads have been made bad by the rains that we have received.”
Deep, wide and sharp-edged potholes are now a common feature along Zimbabwean roads which motorists continue to pay for through toll fees and licences.
As a result the MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube blamed government for last week’s carnage.
“The cause of this accident like many others before it is the negligence and rampant corruption inside President Robert Mugabe’s government,” MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said in a statement on Friday.
“The government and in particular the Ministry of Transport must be brought to book over the horrific deterioration of our roads.
“The ministry seems content with letting bodies pile up while seeing it fit to spend millions of dollars on overseas travel for the President. Potholes are now a permanent feature in just about every road and have become death traps.”
Chihwayi questioned how government, through the transport ministry was spending toll fees and road levies if roads remained in their current battered state.
“...Instead of improvements on our roads, all we are seeing are traffic police officers at literally every 5 kilometre stretch whose sole goal is to further milk motorists of their hard earned cash,” said the MDC spokesperson.
Zimbabwe Passenger Association president Tafadzwa Goliat also accused government of siphoning funds through Zinara.
“Zinara is a cash cow which does not deliver milk to the people to feed on. We are always crying every day.
“Zinara must fix the roads because we will all die as a result of driving on roads full of potholes,” he told NewZimbabwe.com.